This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Thursday 1 December 2022
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)

Strategic Information Technology Delivery Partner

18 Incomplete applications

16 SME, 2 large

10 Completed applications

7 SME, 3 large

Important dates

Published
Thursday 17 November 2022
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 24 November 2022 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 1 December 2022 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Contracted out service: the off-payroll rules do not apply
Summary of the work
Ofqual’s DDaT team are seeking to appoint a highly engaging and collaborative strategic digital, data and cloud infrastructure delivery partner who, periodically, can supplement an existing, (permanent), agile delivery team with technical development and design capabilities in order to improve velocity and business outcomes.
Latest start date
Wednesday 1 February 2023
Expected contract length
Up to 2 years
Location
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual)
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
Ofqual’s Digital, Data and Technology (DDAT) team continuously deliver a programme of strategic improvements in order to meet the organisations evolving needs as it continues to meet its Regulatory and Compliance responsibilities across Education in England.

The in-house team is working to deliver key business priorities agreed by Ofqual’s DDaT programme board from a prioritised backlog. This work is of significant strategic importance for Ofqual; delivery will improve efficiency, cross-team communication, enable better case management, and improve public accessibility and confidence in our services, ultimately to deliver better outcomes for learners.

Our key priority is to establish a highly collaborative, culturally aligned and value driven working relationship with an experienced strategic partner who can immediately contribute as part of our existing Agile delivery team.

In line with wider government ways of working and User Centred Design practices, required expertise ranges from interaction design, user research, software development, test automation, data engineering and analysis; but with potential for other disciplines as outcomes require. Desired mobilisation is anticipated to be no more than 4 weeks on each occasion; ideally faster.
Problem to be solved
Ofqual are seeking to engage with a strategic partner to deliver the following benefits:

• Tactically increase velocity of delivering business outcomes for priority DDaT activities

• Supplement existing DDaT technical skills and experience to constructively challenge and enrich the design and implementation of solutions

• Augment DDaT working and cultural routines with industry tried and tested, best practice methodologies.
Who the users are and what they need to do
Our public-facing services are used by citizens to make complaints to or about Ofqual, ask questions via public enquiries, and to make freedom of information requests. These services are developed in line with GDS standards and integrate with our internal-facing Portal, allowing Ofqual to manage cases and interactions with citizens in one place.

People offering teaching, assessment, and industrial expertise to Ofqual to aid in regulation use our experts gateway to register and access commissions to do work on Ofqual’s behalf. Organisations seeking to become regulated Awarding Organisations (AOs) use our recognition gateway, before being onboarded in the Portal, should their application be successful.

Users of our Portal system include Ofqual staff, regulated AOs and Northern Ireland regulator (CCEA Regulation). Data and statistic links are shared with a range of stakeholders, including the Welsh Regulator (Qualification Wales) and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. Regulated AOs use the Portal to create and maintain their qualifications, submit event notifications and data to Ofqual, or to contact Ofqual or CCEA Regulator with queries.

Data from the Portal, among other sources, is collated into our data lake, which is used for analysis and BI reporting for both Ofqual and awarding organisation users.
Early market engagement
None
Any work that’s already been done
The DDaT team sits within the Regulatory & Corporate Services Directorate, managing several software products supporting business critical functions.

Ofqual’s regulatory IT system, the Portal, was first developed in-house in 2015. It manages interactions with regulated awarding organisations, enabling them to manage qualifications and units data; also, to notify Ofqual of any events that may cause adverse effects to learners.

Using Agile methodologies, the DDAT team deliver against programme priorities set by the DDaT Programme Board. We are currently on a journey to improve our delivery cadence through the adoption of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and DevSecOps practices.
Existing team
The Ofqual Information Management team is supported by a broad mix of skills, which cover five key disciplines:

• Digital development
• Information assurance
• Cloud and infrastructure
• Delivery, engagement, and management (project and programme management, procurement, business analysis, user guidance, process improvement)
• Data services (data engineering and analysis)

The existing team is around 30 permanent staff.
The DDaT team use an Agile approach to delivery, with daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives ceremonies to facilitate fortnightly deliveries.

You can learn more about the wider Ofqual organisation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual/about#:~:text=and%20A%20levels.-,Who%20we%20are,are%20based%20in%20central%20Coventry
Current phase
Live

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Remote by default, with the potential need to visit Ofqual’s offices (Earlsdon Park (7th Floor), 53-55 Butts Rd, Coventry CV1 3BH) as needs arise.
Working arrangements
9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
• Engaging and participating in SCRUM ceremonies
• Engaging permanent Ofqual DDaT experts in all architecturally significant decisions
• Ensuring consistency in software design and development across Ofqual’s estate
• Adhering to Ofqual Software development practices, standards and guardrails
• Meet, conform to and highlight where necessary, all pertinent security standards, policies, risks or potential risks
• Clearly presenting delivered work back to Ofqual staff during SCRUM ceremonies and reviews.
As a partner of Ofqual, we always expect high professional standards, and strong, demonstrable values of corporate social responsibility.
Security clearance
No special security clearance is required, however, due to the nature of data Ofqual handle, on occasion we may require supplier personnel to submit to a Basic Disclosure DBS Check in advance, where we anticipate them working with sensitive data.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
None

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Software Developer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/software-developer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Content Designer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/interaction-designer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Content Designer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-designer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of User Researcher: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/user-researcher
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Test Engineer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/test-engineer
  • Set out how you can reliably resource the above key partner personnel needs with a lead time of no more than 4 weeks on each occasion.
  • Demonstrate experience of successfully delivering technology and digital services for UK public sector organisations, adhering to all standards and governance.
  • Demonstrate experience of delivering using agile SCRUM methodologies.
  • Demonstrate experience of working collaboratively as part of a blended team, alongside customers working in the digital, data and technology domain.
  • Demonstrate technical knowledge of Azure DevOps.
  • Demonstrate technical knowledge of Azure Cloud Services.
  • Demonstrate development experience in .NET Core 3.1, building and consuming REST APIs, React with Typescript, HTML, JS, CSS.
  • Demonstrate experience of automated testing; we use Cucumber Automated Testing.
  • Demonstrate experience of behaviour driven design (BDD).
  • Provide two public-sector focused case studies, covering what service capacity your organisation has acted in and showing where your organisation’s involvement has delivered a positive outcome.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of Education and/or Regulatory sectors.
  • Demonstrate experience of successfully working as a partner organisation to one or more UK public-sector clients, over an extended period of at least 2 years.
  • Demonstrate experience of delivering accessible software by design and implementation, ensuring that services promote equity, supporting disabled users, neurodiverse users, and non-native-English speakers.
  • Demonstrate experience in conducting successful User Research, leading to successful outcomes.
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of DevOps Engineer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/development-operations-devops-engineer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Technical Writer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/technical-writer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Business Analyst: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/business-analyst--2
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Technical Architect: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/technical-architect
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Data Engineer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/data-engineer
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Data Architect: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/data-architect
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Data Analyst: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/data-analyst
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Delivery Manager: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/delivery-manager
  • Supply experienced UK-based professionals in further roles relating to software delivery, at the partner’s discretion.
  • Wider technical knowledge of Azure (Azure Analysis Server, Azure Databricks, Azure Data Factory, Azure Defender, Azure Sentinel, on-prem and Azure networking and firewalls - Cisco ASA/FirePower, Azure NSGs)
  • Technical knowledge of Hyper-V (Active Directory, File Sharing, RDS, Always-On VPN, Print Server).
  • Technical knowledge of Office 365 (SharePoint, Dynamics, Power BI, O365 Security).
  • Technical knowledge of Hybrid Mobile Device Management (MDM) with Intune.
  • Technical knowledge of ETL, data warehousing and data pipeline development Technical knowledge of data storage, validation, and cleansing.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
3
Proposal criteria
  • Provide evidence of being a successful, multi-disciplinary IT partner organisation. (25%)
  • Provide example CVs of supplier personnel suitable for the four essential roles. (25%)
  • Demonstrate a positive internal working culture within your own organisation. (10%)
  • Demonstrate your approach to corporate social responsibility. (5%)
  • Set out your governance approach for a long-term partner relationship with Ofqual. Explain how together we ensure partner expectations continue to be met. (5%)
Cultural fit criteria
Evidence of collaborative working on technical outcomes
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

50%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

30%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. There is a duplicate of ‘Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of Content Designer: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/content-designer‘ – how would you like us to answer this and did you have a different role in mind?
This has been duplicated in error.

One role is for Content Designer and has the correct link provided.
The other role is for Interaction designer. Whilst the reference to the role is duplicated, the link that has been provided for the role is correct.
2. Is there a budget (or budget range) associated with this 2 years of work please?
Up to £2,500,000 in total over the 2 year contract period.
3. Do you already have an incumbent supplier providing the required services? If so, who are they, and how long have they been providing the services to you?
MadeTech Ltd are the incumbent supplier. The contract commenced in 2021 and is scheduled to end in March 2023.
4. Under proposal criteria, you mention four essential roles, which four are you referring to? Especially as there are 5 roles outlined, under the essential questions section.
The reference to four essential roles in the proposal criteria is incorrect. This should state that there are five essential roles, which are outlined under the ‘Essential skills and experience’ section.
5. To what extent are you expecting the partner selected to provide teams of people assigned to a specific outcome, individuals to augment existing Ofqual teams or a mixture of both? If it is a mixture what would you expect the ratio of people for each scenario?
Statements of work are expected to be on a time and materials basis and are intended to augment existing teams of skilled individuals.
6. Can you give us some indication of the amount of Consultants you’ll be needing, per role, over the life of the contract?

You highlight 5 “Essential” Consultant roles and an additional 8 Consultant roles under the “nice to have” section.

It would be good to establish an anticipated bench requirement for Ofqual.
The number of strategic partner heads required, concurrently and over the period of the contract, will be based on the needs of the Organisation which at this time cannot be estimated.
7. Can the supplier utilise nearshore/offshore resources to staff the roles?
No, onshore staff with a current Basic Disclosure and Barring Service check can be considered.
8. Will the selected supplier be asked to run the project in line with GDS Standards (Alpha & Beta Phases, GDS Technical Assessments, etc.)?
Yes, Ofqual endeavours to deliver its digital, data and technology services in line with GDS and CDDO standards, including the Government Design System, Service Standard, and the Technology Code of Practice.
9. Can you provide information on the dev environments? I.E. Will Ofqual provide devices?

Will dev work take place on those devices or VMs?
Development environment is context dependent and may differ between outcomes.
10. You mention.NET Core 3.1, will the team be migrating away from this given that it will shortly reach end of support?
Ofqual endeavours to ensure all technology is maintained and that updates are applied in a timely manner across our estate, this includes updating runtimes in line with end of support and release lifecycles.
11. Are there guidelines/preferences around the use of open source libraries?

Are you looking for a supplier to provide resources to fill skills gaps only or a supplier to help deliver more strategically across your projects?
Ofqual is seeking to appoint a strategic partner that can add value through the delivery of skills, knowledge, and capacity. This includes acting in a consultancy capacity to test and evaluate ideas and to offer alternatives at a technical, tactical, and strategic level. We embrace Opensource technologies where appropriate alongside Enterprise grade tooling to ensure the effective, efficient, and diligent delivery of Organisational and Citizen outcomes.
12. Can you confirm the anticipated procurement timelines beyond stage 1?
Shortlisted suppliers for stage 2 will be notified w/c 5 Dec 2022. Stage 2 response deadline is 16 Dec 2022. Presentations by shortlisted suppliers will take place w/c 09 Jan 2023. Outcome of tender process to be communicated to shortlisted suppliers w/c 30 Jan 2023. Contract start 1 Feb 2023
13. Do you have a Technical Strategy you can share?
Ofqual’s DDaT Strategy is published on gov.uk and can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/digital-data-and-technology-strategy-2021-to-2024
14. You are seeking to tactically increase velocity of delivering business outcomes for priority DDaT activities. Is their opportunity for the selected supplier to input into this activity at a strategic level?
Ofqual are seeking to appoint a strategic partner that can add value through the delivery of skills, knowledge, and capacity. This includes acting in a consultancy capacity to test and evaluate ideas and to offer alternatives at a technical, tactical, and strategic level.
15. Can you provide guidance on how you will evaluate the questions that start with “Supply experienced UK-based professionals in the role of”? There may be several ways to respond to the question; we could:
• Make a state yes that we can provide resources
• Provide evidence of resource provision in other clients
• Indicate how many resources we have
We require suppliers to provide evidence and assurance in their responses to demonstrate that they are capable of supplying suitably qualified and experienced resources in accordance with the role profile and within the agreed timescales. Responses can include the number of resources available and examples of how you have provided resources on other projects and typical turnaround times for supplying these resources.